His Girl Friday, John Guare's inspired combo of Ben Hecht andCharles MacArthur's original play The Front Page and the screen version His Girl Friday, began previews Sunday at The Shaw's Festival Theatre. Directed by skilled actor/director Jim Mezon, His Girl Friday is a no holds barred satire on tabloid journalism that crackles with quick quips, rapid-fire repartee and a big dose of sexual sparring.
Tough-talking, ace word-slinger Hildy Johnson (Nicole Underhay) has had enough of the Chicago newspaper racket. She's ready to throw it all away to catch the midnight train east, settle down with her fiancé Bruce Baldwin (Kevin Bundy) and become a lady of leisure. But that's before her former editor and ex-husband Walter Burns (Benedict Campbell) puts the kibosh on her plans, luring her back with the biggest breaking story of the year - no, it's not the threat of an impending war, but some poor dope who lost his job, went berserk, shot a cop and is waiting to swing; all this so the mayor can be re-elected.
The frenzied pace of Chicago's Criminal Courts press room comes to life with the support of Guy Bannerman, Neil Barclay, Kevin Hanchard, Peter Krantz, Kevin McGarry, Jeff Meadows, Ric Reid and Wendy Thatcher, withThom Allison, Andrew Bunker, Jeremy Carver-James, Aadin Church, Krista Colosimo, Lorne Kennedy, Thom Marriott, Peter Millard, Kiera Sangster, EVan Alexander Smith, Jivaro Smith and Kelly Wong.
The Shaw's production of His Girl Friday is designed by Peter Hartwell, with lighting design by Kevin Lamotte and original music and sound by John Gzowski. The stage management team includes Stage Manager Meredith Macdonald and Assistant Stage Manager Amy Jewell.
His Girl Friday started life as the play The Front Page, Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur's 1920s comedy about Chicago newsmen (produced at The Shaw in 1994). It was then adapted by film director Howard Hawks in 1940 as His Girl Friday with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, one of the great screwball film comedies of all time. The movie was originally supposed to be a straightforward adaptation of The Front Page, with both the editor and reporter being men. But during auditions, Howard Hawks's secretary read reporter Hildy Johnson's lines. Hawks liked the way the dialogue sounded coming from a woman, and the script was rewritten to make Hildy a woman and the ex-wife of editor Walter Burns. John Guare's adaptation folds all of these ideas into one dynamic theatrical package.